Women's health is a topic area that guides a woman through the stages of her life, as well as the conditions and diseases that may occur. Women and men share many similar health problems, but some conditions may affect women differently than men. And some health issues that women face are unique to the female body.
Women’s healthcare is a vital part of routine health maintenance. Throughout the lifespan, a woman will have particular healthcare needs that require specific, specialized attention.
Read on to learn more about women’s health and the specific aspects of care that are available within our
A woman’s wellness exam is a fantastic opportunity to stay on top of your health and prevent future disease. If problems are discovered on a routine exam, they typically can be taken care of more quickly, before they get worse. An annual woman’s wellness exam is recommended for women ages 13 and older.
A woman’s wellness exam can be conducted by a healthcare provider working in family medicine, internal medicine, or obstetrics and gynecology. Your healthcare provider will ask questions about your menstrual history, sexual history, breast health, psychological health, and relationships.
One of the most significant life events that demonstrate the female body’s uniqueness and the need for specialized care is a pregnancy. Pregnancy can be an exciting and bewildering time.
Often, women of childbearing age will seek care prior to embarking on a pregnancy, a time called “preconception planning.” During this time, it is important to follow certain steps to ensure a healthy and successful pregnancy, such as abstinence from smoking and drinking, eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and rest, and taking a prenatal vitamin. Before a pregnancy, some women may also seek guidance regarding fertility and specific ways to assist with fertility.
Once you discover you are pregnant, your healthcare needs will change again. Starting from the time that you discover you are pregnant until the time you deliver your baby, you will likely be seeing your healthcare provider more frequently than you ever have before. Many evaluations will be recommended to ensure that you have a successful and healthy pregnancy.
If you suspect you may be pregnant, schedule a visit to your obstetrician to begin prenatal care. Prenatal visits usually include a physical exam, weight checks, and providing a urine sample.
Pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks, or just over 9 months, as measured from the last menstrual period to delivery. Your body will change as your baby grows during your pregnancy.
When it comes to labor and delivery, you may want to know as much information as possible in advance. A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, though there is a wide range of typical pregnancy durations. Regardless, you will likely have time to prepare your preferences.
Once you have your little newborn in the crook of your arm, your own healthcare needs will be rapidly evolving, too. You will likely experience a whirlwind of emotions surrounding the birth of your baby, both positive and negative. This is entirely normal, though it may take you by surprise, mainly if it is the first time you are going through this experience.
The hormones that nurtured your baby throughout your pregnancy shift after childbirth in order to prepare your body for breastfeeding. The breastfeeding relationship between mother and child carries many benefits, including bonding and immune support.
Endometriosis is a common but little talked about a medical condition affecting 10% of women around the world — that’s almost 176 million women. Despite its prevalence, it is not often discussed and is even less understood.
When it comes to a woman’s health, breast health is a critical component. And when it comes to breast health, self-knowledge and surveillance are key. Although monthly breast self-exams are no longer routinely recommended, it is important to be familiar with the nature of your breasts so you can follow up as soon as possible if you detect a change, such as a lump, skin dimpling, pain, or nipple discharge.
Unfortunately, breast cancer currently affects 1 in 8 women in the United States. For women ages 45 to 65, a mammogram is an essential tool for early cancer detection. The guidelines for mammograms vary based on your health and risk factors, so make sure to check in with your healthcare provider about when and how frequently you should start getting mammograms.
Gynecologic cancer is one that develops anywhere along the female reproductive tract. In the United States, around 94,000 women are diagnosed with gynecological cancer each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Luckily, there is a lot you can do to prevent gynecologic cancers from developing in the first place.
The type of medical doctor who specializes in cancer is called an “oncologist,” however many women’s health doctors (also known as OB/GYNs) are also very skilled at detecting and treating gynecologic cancers.
Menopause Care and Osteoporosis
As the childbearing years come to a close, the female body once again enters a time of transition. Menstrual periods become less frequent, and then stop altogether, a time called “menopause.” Many women will experience hormone fluctuations during this time, with symptoms such as hot flashes. Make sure to check in with your healthcare provider if you think you may be entering menopause, as your healthcare needs will be changing.
As estrogen levels drop, you may become more vulnerable to health conditions such as coronary artery disease and osteoporosis. A routine bone mineral density test is recommended at least once for all women ages 65 and older. You may qualify to receive one earlier, depending on your specific risk factors for osteoporosis. Your healthcare provider can make recommendations for how to avoid bone thinning and how to manage osteoporosis if it is identified.
It’s never too late to start on a path toward healthy aging. Healthy aging has more to do with establishing good daily habits than visiting your healthcare provider for fancy 50,000-mile tune-ups. What you do every day, day in and day out forms the basis of your longevity outlook. Our goal at Lompoc Valley Medical Center is not only to help people live long lives but to help people live long lives of high-quality health and enjoyment. Follow our primer on wellness and aging to maximize your years of healthy living.